Getting Your Grandparents on the Dance Floor

Getting Your Grandparents on the Dance Floor 1707 2560 adam Michaels

It’s almost your wedding day and you know exactly what songs will bring you and your friends to the dance floor – it was blowing up on TikTok, you were texting each other Spotify links, someone posted it to their Instagram story. You know exactly what jams will have your parents and aunts and uncles busting out moves you forgot they had – it’s been a few years since the Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances of your high school years after all, but you’ll never forget the tunes they’d put on in the car or the living room. 

But there are some special people there for your big day whose musical taste might not be familiar to you – you may not even think of them as people who can dance. However, we here at Around Town can promise you that your grandparents once had a whole lotta shakin’ going on, and with the right songs, they’ll forget all about their aging hips and knees and be right on that dance floor with you. 

For the purposes of these suggestions, we’re focusing our energies on grandparents currently between the ages of 75 and 90, but feel free to take your own grandparent’s ages into account as you read or research! The simple formula we’re using to figure out what music they likely loved dancing to the most goes like this: Take your grandparent’s age, and subtract it from the current year (if you don’t already know what year your grandparent was born); next, add 13 – now you’ve got the year they became a teenager! Take that number and add 17 – this is the year your grandparent turned 30. The years between 13 and 30 tend to be the most musically formative, and indicative of someone’s taste or favorites for the rest of their lives. So, we’ll be focusing on the most popular dance music between 1950 and 1980! 

Now, before we go any further, our first and best suggestion is this: call your grandparents and ask them what their favorite songs to dance to were. Having done this ourselves, we promise it’s a blast of a conversation – the look in their eyes as they remember and recount it is genuinely priceless (topped only by the look on their faces when the song plays at your reception!) Additionally, ask them what song their first dance was to, or if there was a song in their courtship that was “their song” – it might be a classic like Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender” or something more surprising or obscure like “Cindy Lou” by Dick Penner

…Ok did you do it? Did you call your grandparents? We’ll assume you did! Maybe you didn’t and you want to keep this all a surprise for them – that’s fun too! Without further ado, let’s get into some suggestions, by decade, of songs our award-winning live bands love to play that we think will get your grandparents moving and grooving! 

First Stop: The Fifties! 

Famous for giving birth to Rock n’ Roll, filled with legends like Elvis and Chuck Berry, the 50’s were also what launched R&B – think Ray Charles – and the popular big band and jazzy stylings of artists like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Perry Como. Our suggestions for fun or touching 50’s songs are: 


Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley & His Comets 

Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley 

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On by Jerry Lee Lewis 

The Twelfth of Never by Johnny Mathis 

Tutti Frutti by Little Richard 

Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis Presley 

The Twist by Chubby Checker 

Put Your Head on my Shoulder by Paul Anka 

I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Frank Sinatra 

Swing Into The Sixties! 

Get ready for the British Invasion! The 60’s were a dynamic and transformative decade for music, ushering in Motown, expanding Rock n’ Roll, and giving rise to folk rock. The Beatles stand out as the most dominant sensation, but the 60’s were full of incredible artists who changed the face of music, from Aretha Franklin to Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye to Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles to The Beach Boys. Here are some of our top suggestions for this decade’s most danceable tunes: 

Twist & Shout by The Beatles 

You Can’t Hurry Love by The Supremes 

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell 

I’m a Believer by The Monkees 

It’s Not Unusual by Tom Jones 

God Only Knows by The Beach Boys 

Stop! In The Name Of Love by The Supremes

Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond 

Respect by Aretha Franklin 

Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons 

Get Groovy, Baby – it’s the Seventies! 

Will your guests have “Saturday Night Fever”? The 1970s was a decade of musical diversity and innovation, with genres like rock, disco, punk, and funk all leaving a significant mark, and singer-songwriters really taking over the more intimate parts of the music scene. Iconic  (if entirely different) bands like Queen, ABBA, and the Bee Gees emerged, alongside acts like the queen of disco herself, Donna Summer, storytellers Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and The Carpenters, as well as the kings of the piano scene, Sir Elton John and the king of Madison Square Garden, Billy Joel. A quick note here, depending on how old your grandparents are, this decade of music may actually speak more to your parents and their peers – still fun to take into consideration when picking your music! Our suggested bops are: 

Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind & Fire with the Emotions 

Night Fever by the Bee Gees 

Top of the World by The Carpenters

The Hustle by Van McCoy 

Voulez Vous by ABBA (much of ABBA’s catalogue is extremely danceable, you can’t generally go wrong with one of their many smash hits)

September by Earth, Wind & Fire 

Boogie Shoes by KC & The Sunshine Band 

Just the Way You Are by Billy Joel 

Crocodile Rock by Elton John 

Turn the Beat Around by Vickie Sue Robinson

While we didn’t touch on this decade this time, if your grandparents are well into their 90’s or perhaps liked “oldies” even when they were younger, don’t forget to take a look into the bold, brassy, big band, jazzy, crooning songs of the 1940s! Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and Glenn Miller & His Orchestra are great places to start!